John Krasinski—best known as on-screen paper salesman Jim Halpert from “The Office”—was spotted wandering around Pomona’s campus last week. As the news spread, Facebook statuses were updated and homework was put off as students trekked around Pomona, hoping to “accidentally” run into the actor. But many were still mystified by what the A-lister was doing at the Claremont Colleges. Before attending Brown University, Krasinski had not considered acting as a possible career. In his sophomore year, Krasinski acted in the stage adaption of David Foster Wallace’s “Brief Interviews with Hideous Men.” The depth and passion of the play convinced Krasinski that acting was his true calling. The one-night show also sparked intense interest in Wallace’s works, a writing professor at Pomona College who took his life in 2008 after a lengthy struggle with depression.
Krasinski eventually bought the rights to the book “Brief Interviews with Hideous Men,” and put a tremendous amount of time and effort into writing, casting and directing the movie version. In Wallace’s honor, Krasinski wanted the West coast premiere of the film to be on the Pomona campus. Krasinski screened the film for a lucky 200 students and faculty, then hosted a question and answer session.
“Brief Interviews with Hideous Men” focuses on a recently heartbroken Sara Quinn, whose boyfriend walked out with little explanation. Quinn, a graduate student who hopes to understand the male psyche, decides to base her thesis on a series of interviews with men. These candid interviews are interspersed within a storyline involving a group of people who are all connected in some way. Think of a more intellectual, serious version of “Love Actually,” mixed with the interesting juxtaposition of memories and present times found in “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.”
With no directing experience, Krasinski does an excellent job of bringing Wallace’s multi-faceted, quirky characters to life. Krasinski worked tirelessly on the filming as well as editing until he felt that the movie did justice to Wallace’s book. The actor-turned-director’s two most important reasons for making the movie were to “get more people [interested in] David Foster Wallace’s work” and to make a movie that would impact its viewers.
Although he tried to stay as close to the book as possible, Krasinski said that the film “is only one take on it” and “will only ever be a fraction of the imagination” found in Wallace’s book. The actor strongly believes that Wallace was “one of the greatest authors we have [ever] had.” Krasinski hopes that the film will open another door to Wallace’s writing. At the end of the presentation, Krasinski said, “I’m proud that the book is out…that it [has] reached another medium.” Krasinski’s “Brief Interviews with Hideous Men” is a beautifully complex tribute to the esteemed works of David Foster Wallace.